tv BBC World News America WHUT December 5, 2011 6:30pm-7:00pm EST
>> and now, "bbc world news america." >> this is bbc world news america. reporting from washington, i am trained o'brien. feeling the heat of the eurozone woes, a major ratings agency warns there may be more downgrades in the cards. protesters take to the streets of moscow, demanding an end to the rule of vladimir putin a day after parliamentary elections. an explosive mix in iceland. could the country's fire and ice make it primed for one of the biggest eruptions in a century?
welcome to viewers on pbs in america, and around the globe. we do not have time. that was the warning from the french president as he met with germany's chancellor in the latest attempt to save the eurozone. with a leading credit agency warning tonight that it could downgrade the ratings of nearly all eurozone economies, including germany, the pressure is mounting. our europe editor starts our coverage from paris. >> this was the start of a crucial week for the eurozone, with key summits. the curtain raiser was here at the elysee palace, a meeting between leaders of france and germany, the most powerful in the eurozone. they embraced and called for a treaty that would insure foolish spending never happened again, with automatic sanctions for countries that broke rules.
the leaders wanted to stress their determination to do what was needed to fix the crisis. >> our will is to go on a forced march, to reestablish confidence in the euro and eurozone. we do not have time. we are aware of the seriousness of the situation, and the responsibility on our shoulders. >> the german chancellor would prefer all 27 members of the union agreed to a treaty change, but would accept it if it was limited to the countries in the eurozone. >> we are open either to changes for the treaties for the 27, but also for the 17 eurozone members if necessary. this package shows we are determined to keep the euro a stable currency. >> the leaders hope that by signing a tough deal on the spending limits, it will make it easier for the central bank to help countries struggling to finance debt. what has been agreed? the leaders will push for an
urgent treaty change, although many details remain unclear. there will be strict budget limits. deficits will not be allowed to exceed 3% of gdp. there will be automatic sanctions agreed by other member states for those who break the rules. in a country protective of national pride, there is concern that these changes are eroding sovereignty. the opposition fears that oversight of budgets by a european court would weaken the role of parliament in france. >> being in the euro does not mean the that we lose any control of our own economic policy. we need to keep that. >> if the treaty change involves all 27 members, it will need british support. if the changes are significant, they could trigger referenda elsewhere. even though it is unlikely new measures will apply to britain, the prime minister was asked about a referendum in the u.k..
>> our approach is simple. we have a legislature. it is impossible for a british government to pass power from britain to brussels without asking people in a referendum first. i do not intend to pass power from britain to brussels. i do not think the issue will arise. >> what happens next? european countries including britain will be asked this friday whether they back treaty change. the question is how long the process will take. what did they did not address is the fundamental issue of debt and low growth. bbc news, paris. >> while negotiations continue in europe, as we have mentioned, standard and poor's has threatened to downgrade the credit rating of 15 eurozone countries, putting even more pressure on the eurozone summit this week. for more, i am joined by
caroline in new york. it is not as if anybody needs to be warned that europe is in trouble. we know that. why is s&p doing that? >> it is interesting timing from standard and poor's. there has been so much procrastination in europe. finally, s and p is taking a hard look, and perhaps trying to give leaders a shock to get on with it and come up with a definitive solution, which has eluded them for almost two years, when greece began with debt problems. those seeped into other eurozone nations. now, standard and poor's, the u.s. credit ratings agency, say they are going to review the finances of all these european countries. within 90 days, they will say whether or not they will downgrade the credit ratings. the chances of that happening are basically 50/50.
that includes at least six triple-a-rated countries. the important thing to remember is that a downgrade makes it more expensive for countries to borrow money, this at a time when europe is already struggling with huge debt issues. >> why germany? germany is supposed to be europe's strongest economy. >> it certainly is. this is why it is going to be so problematic for them. germany has led the eurozone, both economically and in terms of trying to find a political solution to the debt problem. i think germany has been included in this basket of this wide-ranging examination of europe precisely because of the political issues. standard and poor's mentioned this in their statement. it is the political deadlock they are concerned about, the lack of progress they are
worried about. this is exacerbating the eurozone issue. that is what standard and poor's wants to see resolved. in fact, they say they are going to be looking closely at the meeting this week of eurozone leaders. >> caroline in new york. thank you for joining us. now to russia, where thousands took to the streets today, demanding an end to prime minister vladimir putin's rule. the display comes a day after putin's party was dealt a blow at the polls. united russia maintained a narrow majority, but saw numbers dwindle. officials from the eu said the poll was conducted unfairly. daniel stanford reports from moscow. >> less than a mile from the kremlin on an up market boulevard, riot police struggled to clear the biggest demonstration the city has seen since the 1990's. it was an almost spontaneous
reaction to what the crowd believed was a fixed election. russia without putin, they shouted, their anger focused on the country's fifth prime minister, vladimir putin, who has been in power for almost 12 years, but is blamed for presiding over a bureaucracy tainted by rampant corruption. >> we look back and realize we have nothing in -- no reform of the police, no reform of the army, no battle against corruption. it is obvious that people who two years ago supported putin -- they look and see he has not done anything. that is why we do not support him. >> what made this demonstration remarkable was not just the size. it was the protesters themselves. there were moscow's young middle-class, who feel that in putin's russia and they have no future. they feel the elections are unfair.
this has been a bad month for vladimir putin. first he was booed in public. then he lost a third of his seats in the parliament. now we have seen the biggest demonstration in moscow for more than a decade. but the opposition are not well organized. it is unclear that they can sustain this level of protest. bbc news, moscow. >> for more on the election results and the blow delivered to putin's party, i spoke with matthew from the carnegie endowment for international peace in moscow. thanks for joining us. i wanted to start with those protests. thousands of people in one of the biggest opposition demonstrations the country has seen for a long time. how serious is this for putin? >> i think we have to put this in perspective. remember that several thousand people on the streets of moscow, relative to a city of more than 10 million, where you have
literally hundreds of thousands of security forces on election day to maintain order, as your screen showed earlier, members of the kremlin youth group on the streets in tens of thousands -- they have been bused in from outside of moscow. for context, this is a small ripple. it is like a magic eye picture. if you look close enough at the small things going on in the picture, maybe you get an image of something different. but i think moscow looks the same as it did the friday and saturday before the election. >> nevertheless, a disappointing show in the ballots for mr. putin's party. how much of a blow is this for his personal standing? he does sort of embody the party. >> that is right. the irony is putin is the chairman of the party. he is not actually a member of the party. that is consistent with his "father of the nation" image he
likes to cultivate. he is the most popular political figure in russia. a big part of that is good luck. he presided over growth and recovery after the trauma of the 90's. the russians give him credit for that, fairly or unfairly. part of it is a sense of despair and lack of alternative. many russians say this is the leader. we cannot think of another figure of his stature. he controls the levers of power, so no one else will emerge unless he permits it to happen. >> is this just discontent with the economy, or is there something more significant? >> i think the opposite. i think what you see right now, in terms of overt protest, these alleged violations which were almost certainly real. these are mostly about politics now, rather than the economy. i think when things get to a bigger scale, it will be because the economy turns.
right now, russia weathered the financial storm of the last years. russians have largely recovered their jobs. people have options to travel. they have savings, cars, and apartments. people are doing ok. a lot are being left behind, but they never had a shot. it is the middle class that has a stake in things. when they feel the bite of stagnation and corruption, and the dependency of russia on energy exports to the exclusion of all else, the time bomb goes off. >> thank you very much for joining us. in other news around the world, the syrian government has given what it calls a positive response to the arab league peace plan. a day after the latest deadline for damascus to sign the deal expired, a spokesman for syria's foreign ministry said syria expressed readiness to allow in observers. the man who used to leave the ivory coast -- lead the ivory
coast, laurent gbagbo, has appeared in front of the criminal court at the hague. he is charged with responsibility for blood sport -- for bloodshed following elections in the spring. he is the first military leader, to be tried since the inception in 2002. foreign support is crucial to stability of afghanistan. the conference concluded with promises of tough anti- corruption moves by the afghans and pledges of sustained a buy the rest of the world. in the u.s., it may be 11 months until election day, but the political drama is in full swing. this weekend, republican nominee herman cain suspended his campaign, and now it is reality tv host donald trump who is grabbing headlines. today, newt gingrich became the latest candidate to visit trump
in new york, seeking his support. it is the announcement trump is scheduled to moderate a debate that has some up in arms. a brief time ago, i discussed it with political analyst robert trainer. let us get this into context. congress is polarized and paralyzed in the middle of one of the worst global financial crises in history, and we are talking about donald trump. >> he is the gift that keeps on giving to some people. he is relevant to a degree because he is a business person. people like what he has to say. he is a reality politician. the question is whether he has a role in the political process. my answer is no. >> who is behind the drive to get him on? presumably it is debate sponsors who want higher ratings. >> absolutely. >> how dangerous is this in damaging the process? >> it is trivializing the process. a lot of people are living
paycheck to paycheck, and a reality star is going to be not -- to be hosting a presidential debate. we have to be careful. donald trump is an american, with every right to participate in politics. but we must be careful. >> is he influential? >> it depends who you ask. business people and wall street would say yes. the average person on main street would say no. >> newt gingrich. earlier this year, he was dismissed as out of the running. now, he is at the top. is he a contender to stay in the race? >> i think this is a race between it rummy and newt gingrich, and a conversation in the republican party. do you want a moderate general election campaign from mitt romney, or a hard-charging conservative like newt gingrich? that is what a lot of the grassroots republicans have to ask. do you want mitt romney or newt
gingrich? >> it seems over the last few months, there has been flirtation with every candidate except mitt romney. we had michele bachman, rick perry, and herman cain. who is next? >> it has to be jon huntsman or rick santorum. that is who we have left. there are folks who are not happy with the republican party. they are not happy with their choices. they tried to get chris christie into the race, the governor of new jersey. they tried to get jeb bush and others. they are not happy. it tells me that we take a look at the front runners. it is still mitt romney to lose. he is not concerned enough for the base. >> i am sure we will talk about this again. in fact, tomorrow we have a report from iowa, their take on the latest in the republican race. you are watching "bbc world news
america." still to come, protecting a vital resource in the heart of africa. the race is on to save one of the world's largest rain forests before it is too late. there has been a significant scientific breakthrough that could help preserve australia's great barrier reef. duncan kennedy has the details. >> it is the only living thing on earth visible from space, 2,600 kilometers long, the truly great barrier reef. in fact, it is nearly 3000 wreaths systems, longer than the great wall of china, and a victim of climate change through warm and oceans. a natural, but damage, a gift. but the context of this -- contents of this pot might be its savior. stored in liquid nitrogen are 7 billion coral sperm cells and
1.5 billion embryonic cells. >> we have the ability to take the sperm, thought it out, reanimate it, and fertilize eggs and create sexually-produced coral. >> this is the first time sperm and cells from the great barrier reef have been frozen. it is a project being run at the zoo in sydney. >> we will never have as much risk as we do now. it is incredibly important we start saving the reef right now, for five years or 100 years. "we've already suffers from bleaching, where water temperatures leave it in a damaged state. by freezing particles before this happens, they hope to create a bank of replacement parts. with rising temperatures and increased the city, 1% to 2% of the barrier reef is being lost
every year. scientists hope they will never have to reintroduce their cells back onto the reef, but one day may have to. bbc news. >> in south africa, major international talks aimed at tackling global climate change entered the second week. 194 countries are taking part in negotiations to rescue the only treaty on curbing future emissions of greenhouse gases. the condo basin is the world's largest -- second largest tropical rain forest, covering an area greater than spain. andrew harding has traveled to the condo, where even the army has joined the fight to save the jungle. >> in the heart of africa, more than a million square miles of rain forest. but will it survive? congolese soldiers guard one corner of the jungle, but they
are battling against locals, farmers, and lethal militia groups. >> we lost over 12 rangers this year protecting the park. >> are you managing to win this battle? >> we have to. there is no other choice. >> for now, poverty, lack of roads, and conflict have kept chunks of the forest out of reach. but africa's economy is finally booming, and condo, like the pristine amazon jungle decades ago, is suddenly at risk. >> we cannot say do not build roads or do not create economic activity. "we can do is at least identify the most vulnerable place, the most diverse place we should protect, and try to welcome sustainable development. >> like this project to make fuel-efficient stoves.
it could have the number of trees cut for truckle. it -- it could halve the number of trees cut for charcoal. the plan being debated in several could see billions of pounds poured into condo, but it is complicated. >> it is more control. we have lack of government. it could be like we used to be in african countries. nothing would be done as we expected. >> chaos? >> yes. >> for now, the poorly-funded army does what it can. the condo needs more outside help, -- the condo -- the congo needs more outside help, but the price is the. we could pay its soldiers to protect a vast forests and help
prevent climate change. in practice, it is proving slow, risky, and chaotic. the motivation is there. the big money may be coming. the fight to save the world's second greatest rainforest is going to be bruising. andrew harding, bbc news, the democratic republic of congo. >> from the rain forests to one of mother nature's most explosive displays. in indonesia, thousands have been forced to flee after a volcano started spewing lava and ash late yesterday. in iceland, there is speculation there could be one of the most powerful eruptions the country has seen in a century. we are joined by the national geographic expert on the island -- on iceland. he explains why the volcano is so interesting, and what the consequences could be.
>> iceland is a place where the planet is alive. this is a place where the crest of the earth is ripping apart and new land is being made. volcanoes are emerging. at high latitude, it is called much of the year. volcanoes are emerging beneath glaciers. you have fire and ice. what more could you want? the last erruption produced a great deal of ash, mixing water with magma, which everyone knows brought air traffic in western europe to a standstill for a while. people are quite intrigued by the recent erruption last year. the three times it is known to have erupted during human history have all been precursors to another major eruption, which came within a few years. that has everyone thinking katla might be about to go. the icelandic people are fairly
resilient and well addicted -- well adapted to living with their volcanoes. they are always looking for tremors in the earth that could be the precursor to a major volcanic eruptions. they are wise about where they live. they do not live on the huge travel plans on the southern coast that have been created by massive flow. they live on coastal ground that is generally protected. when katla erupts, it will almost certainly melt ice. if it is a major corruption, it could not a lot of ice beneath the ice cap. that would release a sizable flood. both at katlas and at other place years, when these produce major floods, the volume of water over several days has
equaled the float of all the world's large rivers combined, a staggering amount of water flowing into the ocean. it does not last long. during the time is going on, it is catastrophic. >> if ford cochrane with "national geographic." there is one more story we would like to share. for anybody wishing to get away to another planet, we may have the ticket. nasa's kepler mission has confirmed a new planet in the so-called habitable zone, a region where walker could exist on a planet surface. there is a major catch, which is that kepler 22-b is 600 light years away. you might want to start packing now. if you want to keep firmly on the ground, stay with us. today's show has come to a close, but you can get updates on our website. for all of us at the bbc, thank